Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Calcutt (finding out where to wash elephants)

On Monday morning, Buddy and I went into Leamington as I had arranged an emergency appointment with the dentist following a troublesome tooth.  Afterwards we had a wander around the town for our morning walk.

There used to be a track down to the River Leam by the main bridge (Victoria Bridge).  The track was used to drive animals down to the river to wash and water them.  Once the town became popular as a spa town it was felt that the animal wash spoilt the ambience so, in 1882, it was moved to its current site off Leam Terrace.  It became known as Elephant Wash as many travelling circuses of the day used it for their animals.

The Elephant Wash (the wall on the left is obviously more modern)

Although we knew about the wash and had visited it before I did learn something new on our town visit: Frank Whittle, the inventor of the jet engine, worked at the Leamington Valve & Piston company from the age of ten.

Looking upstream to Mill Bridge from the wash

Mill Bridge was opened in 1903 from a design based upon London's Albert Bridge and is Grade II listed. It was so named as it is on the site of an old water mill that used to be the source of water for the town.  The bridge leads over to Jephson Gardens, one of the many green parks in the town.

An extract about the gardens, copied from Warwick District Council: “The gardens began as farmland which belonged to Edward Willes, a member of the Willes family who played an important part in the shaping of early Leamington. First laid out in 1831 as informal riverside walks along the River Leam, the original Newbold Gardens were developed into formal pleasure grounds and, in 1846, were renamed in honour of Dr Henry Jephson, who had promoted the town as a spa and built houses for the town's poor residents. Jephson Gardens is listed as Grade II on the English Heritage register of historic parks and gardens.”

One advantage of being back on this stretch of the Grand Union is that there is a regular fuel boat service.  Mark, on his boat Callisto, operates between Warwick and Foxton which is on the way to Leicester and he stops to top us up whenever he’s passing.  We need to stock up on coal now winter is approaching and, as luck would have it, Mark will be passing us in a couple of days.  We’ll top up with diesel whilst we’re at it too.

Because of the winter closures our plan says we must get through Warwick over the weekend of 7th October.  This means we will only be able to stop a night or two at each of the pleasant mooring spots between here and Warwick – places like Tomlow, Welsh Road, Bascote, Long Itchington, Offchurch and Radford Semele.  All these places are ideal for staying a week or two as, not only are they lovely locations, they have handy car access and are close to Karen’s office.

Before I sign off for today here are a few more shots of our walk up Scafell Pike on Saturday:

Ready, steady, go!

Just after setting off - it wasn't long before the layers started coming off as it was such a lovely day

Karen with Derwent Water behind

About half way up - Lauren striding out

Steve and Lauren at the top

A happy Lauren in the rain - it only lasted for about 15 minutes - we were so lucky

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